Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said it will decide by next week whether to leave a European treaty to protect women against domestic violence, a move that has angered many Turkish women, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s daughter.
Turkey was the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention in 2012, followed by 33 other European nations.
It is called the first binding agreement that declares violence against women a human rights violation and "creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women," including protecting victims and prosecuting violent suspects.
But Turkey’s conservative government says it wants to withdraw from the pact because opponents say it undermines Turkish families and so-called traditional values that already protect women from violence.
A 2016 U.N. report said that 38 percent of Turkish women had experienced “physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.” And, according to an authoritative Istanbul-based advocacy group, We Will Stop Femicide, the number of women murdered, usually by their partners, has been increasing, with 121 women murdered in 2011 and in 2018, 440, according to an NPR report.
The possible withdrawal is pitting Erdogan’s son and daughter against each other.
“It is our religion which determines our fundamental values, our view of the family,” the Turkish Youth Foundation said. Erdogan’s son, Bilal Erdogan, is a member of the foundation’s board.
But Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye Erdogan is the deputy head of Turkey’s Women and Democracy Association.
“We can no longer talk about ‘family’ … in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” the association said. “Marital rape is not normal in a healthy relationship. Bullying is in opposition to human dignity and Islamic value judgments.”
The deputy chairman of the AKP, Numan Kurtulmus, said Turkey’s LGBTQ community has “taken refuge” behind the convention to push for equal treatment.
Those who support Turkey remaining in the agreement said dropping out would be contrary to European values and be considered a step back from Turkey’s long campaign to join the European Union.